Presentation Round Up – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Looking to stand out in the crowd? Yet still need to ‘fit in’ to the corporate culture, norms and standards for business presenting? Don’t fret. You’re not alone.

Millions of people grapple with this tough dilemma. You want to be different, cutting-edge and radical. But you don’t want to alienate your boss, clients or prospects.

Hey, what’s the right thing to do?

In many popular books by leading experts in public speaking, you’ll find similar advice. It’s all about standing out and shining. You’ll find commands such as: Be unique. Get radical. Push the envelope. Go for shock and awe. Break the rules.

While this sounds good on paper, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking about ‘real world’ issues:

“What would my boss say?”

“That would never fly in my firm.”

“In your dreams, buddy.”

Let’s face the facts. Daring presentations are essential and important.  But there are organizational expectations and realities to face up to — if you want to keep your job.

In planning your next presentation, look at your options in 3-buckets: the good, the bad…and the ugly.

The Good

Action: You take a radical approach to presenting.

Instead of a hum-drum PowerPoint pitch, you turn on the juice with whiteboard presenting. By getting your audience involved in a lively discussion, you expose a hot issue that your clients are going crazy about — one that your firm is able to solve.

Result: Good!

Your boss commends you for taking the risks. Plus he is thrilled because you’ve brought in the rewards. Now, he wants you to find a training company that teaches visual storytelling so all the members of your team can be as proficient at the whiteboard as you are.

Benefit: Good!

You get an A+. Your boss loves your work. Your team admires you as their natural leader. Oh, yes. Don’t forget that hefty bonus check.

The Bad

Action: You take a radical approach to presenting.

You ditch the boring corporate-approved slide deck in favor for a whiteboard approach to storytelling.

Figuring that sketching with a marker in front of a group isn’t as hard as it looks…you jump in without coaching, practice or training.

What happens? Your busy clients are intrigued by your whiteboard scrawl. But they are looking bewildered. They aren’t sure why you bothered. Hint: if people can’t read your writing or understand your visual diagrams, your whiteboard presentations are going to bomb.

Result: Bad!

Your boss is pissed off! After yelling at you in front of the team, you are treated to the silent treatment. Not sure how to proceed, you toy with several options:

1. Get training in whiteboard interaction

2. Never use a whiteboard again

3. Start sending out your resume

Benefit: Instead of jumping first and getting help later, you now know the importance of targeted coaching and training! One bad experience is enough to light a fire underneath you. No more waiting. You’re actively seeking out coaching, training and online classes. No more procrastination. You’re focused on building your skills and getting help right now.

The Ugly

Action: You take a conservative approach to presenting.

Instead risking embarrassment and humiliation at the whiteboard, you grip on to your clicker and run with the same slide deck you used last time.

Feeling confident in your client presentation, you don’t check in with other team members. Moving along in the corporate-approved deck, you have a sense of warm certainty in your tummy that everything is going your way. No rocking the boat like some of your other teammates.

Result: Ugly!

Your boss flips out! You get the riot act. Some wild yelling and head slapping, accompanied with: “I can’t believe you showed that generic deck to these clients! We were counting on that deal. What were you thinking?!”

Feeling betrayed and disillusioned, you ask for help from a close teammate. He tells you that the newest trend in presenting is visual storytelling. He shows you how to draw icons and create a simple visual diagram at a whiteboard. In just minutes, you’ve got an easy story to tell that is fun, inspiring and anything but hum-drum.

Benefit: While you start sending out your resume for a new job, you now have a new awareness of presentation trends. You’re a lot less likely to rely on the same-old-same-old the next time you’re in front of busy clients.

In fact, you’ll be much more prepared to blow your audience away with whiteboard sketches and visual storytelling. Just the thing that important clients and prospects can relate to.

Now, let’s get personal. What’s your plan for your next high-stakes presentation? Take a close, hard look. Aim for interaction and visual storytelling. Remember this: Your boss and clients will love it. Imagine the rewards and benefits: you’ll get an A+ and land a big bonus.

3 Reasons to Use On-Board Housing for Your Drive-thru Speaker & Mic

It seems that with greater frequency people are asking to have their speaker and microphone as a part of their drive-thru menu board. Is this doable? Yes. Is it ideal? No. The reasons vary but can be summed up in short order.

To achieve the optimal sound quality from the communication system the speaker and mic should be within close proximity to the car. In doing such, the inevitable result positions the menu board right up against the curb. This has little to no effect on the driver or driver-side passengers. However, it becomes a bear for those on the passenger side to see the drive-thru as it offers no viewing angle. This leaves these poor souls scrambling for their yoga mats to do their best “upward dog” technique just to sneak a peek at the menu.

Another downside to the onboard setup is that it chews up a significant amount of your graphics space. For instance, take the drive-thru shown in the picture accompanying this blog, the restaurant loses one whole section of their menu board. We’ve actually gone away from this approach and have adopted side and top enclosures that angle towards the car. This way, you can maintain all your graphics space as well as your communication clarity.

With all that being said, there are three scenarios where the on-board speaker mic set up is more appropriate and, in some cases, the only option.

1- Budget
The benefit of having an “all-in-one” set up, which combines your menu board and your headset system, is that it only requires one concrete pad to be poured vs. two. It also eliminates the added expense of the speaker post that you’d need with the other setup. However, it is important to keep in mind that the concrete work isn’t too cumbersome and can be completed with little know-how, a sonotube, and concrete.

2- Available space
Sometimes the lay of the land just doesn’t cooperate. For instance, one of the local McDonald’s has its drive-thru lane pinned up against a retaining wall; there is literally no more room to be had. In these cases, you’re hamstrung into the onboard solution. You will also sometimes see this in dual lane setups where they need to minimize the width of each lane in order to fit the two paths.

3- Wall mount
This goes hand in hand with “budget” and “available space.” The only time you would want to go with a wall-mounted solution is to save some money (no concrete work, no conduit runs, easier install overall, etc.) or it is the only conceivable option for your drive-thru sign. In this case, you’ll more than likely have to house the speaker and mic in or near the sign

So as you can see, there are occasions where it makes sense to have on-board housing for your speaker and mic. However, if you have a few more nickels to spare and the available space at the job site, it is always recommended to have a separate enclosure for your speaker and mic. Just look at the “big guys.” If they have space, they are ALL independent of one another.

Be an Influential Presenter: Have Passion and Use Dynamic Examples

When we are asked to give a presentation — a keynote, a workshop, a sales presentation, or lead a meeting — one of our primary goals is to influence our listeners in some way. What are the tools, methods, attributes and attitudes that will help us to become powerful, influential presenters?

Have Passion for Your Topic If You Hope to Influence.

  • I have talked about having a passion for your topic before, but I feel it can’t be said enough. If we don’t care about our topics, how can we ever expect to influence others? Last year I attended a Security Summit intended for technology types. However, the presenter who was the most passionate and frightened me the most wasn’t a “techie” at all.
  • He was a passionate writer and speaker about airline security. He started by pointing out that security strategy isn’t any different from computer technology security. By showing the similarities of approaches and the need to think backward, “with the mind of a terrorist,” he showed clearly that “security is security” and the more secure we think we are by creating additional layers of security, we aren’t becoming safer.
  • Before you accept a presentation assignment, be truthful about your passion or lack of passion for the topic or the product. You may be able to entertain the listeners, but without passion, you will never be able to influence them.

Make Use of Dynamic Examples for Influence

At the Security Summit, the most dynamic example was as unnerving, and yet as easy to follow as an example could be. The security guru for airline safety talked about all of the new layers of safety measures that have been initiated since 9/11 — the airport check-through lines, the undercover agents on the planes, the pilot’s gun and the heavy security door to the cockpit that is bullet proof and locks from within the cockpit.

He then walked out of the room, closed the door and proceeded to knock on it, until someone let him back in (people assumed that the door had locked him out). He then asked how many in the room had flown recently and had noticed that the heavy security door was open throughout the flight, or had been opened for the pilot to use the restroom at the back of the plane.

He illustrated that in this situation we have made it easy for the terrorists. Now only one — not three — terrorist sitting toward the front of the plane who is quick and trained in the martial arts can dash through the open door, shut it to everyone else, surprise and overwhelm the pilot, take his gun, shoot those in the cockpit, and he is clear to fly the plane into any building he wishes. Were we all influenced by this demonstration? You bet.

You see, as long as you’re passionate about your topic and your examples are dramatic, you will be remembered as an influential presenter.